THE LIBRARY OF THE
AT CHAPEL HILL
THE COLLECTION OF
North Carolinians Society
FOR USE ONLY IN
THE NORTH CAROLINA COLLECTION
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2012 with funding from
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
My hope Affair with Carolina
DORIS WAUGH BETTS
Together with Tributes to Doris Betts by Elizabeth Evans,
Eewellyn Betts, and Max Steele on the Occasion of Her
Acceptance of the North Caroliniana Society Award for 1998
NORTH CAROLINIANA SOCIETY' IMPRINTS
H. G.Jones, General Editor
No. 1 . An Evening at Montkello: An Essay in Reflection (1 978)
by Edwin M. Gill
No. 2. The Paul Green I Know (1978)
by Elizabeth Lay Green
No. 3. The Albert Coates I Know (1 979)
by Gladys Hall Coates
No. 4. The Sam Ennn 1 Know (1980)
by Jean Conyers Ervin
No. 5. Sam Ragan (\98\)
by Neil Morgan
No. 6. Thomas Wolfe of North Carolina (1982)
edited by H. G. Jones
No. 7. Gertrude Sprague Carraway (1982)
by Sam Ragan
No. 8. John Fries Blair (1983)
by Margaret Blair McCuiston
No. 9. William Clyde Friday and Ida Howell Friday (1 984)
by Georgia Carroll Kyser and William Brantiey Aycock
No. 10. William S. Powell, Historian (1985)
by David Stick and William C. Friday
No. 11. "Gallantry Unsurpassed" (1985)
edited by Archie K. Davis
No. 12. Mary and Jim Semans, North Carolinians (1986)
by W. Kenneth Goodson
No. 13. The High Water Mark (1986)
edited by Archie K. Davis
No. 14. Raleigh andQuinn: The Explorer and His Boswell (1987)
edited by H. G.Jones
[continued on inside back cover]
My Love Affair with Carolina
Doris Waugh Betts
Together with Tributes to Dons Betts by Elizabeth Evans,
Lwellyn Betts, and Max Steele on the Occasion of Her
Acceptance oj the North Caroliniana Society Award for 1998
Chapel Hill 27514-8890
North Carounlina Society Inc.
and North Carolina Collection
NORTH CAROUNIANA SOCIETY IMPRINTS
H. G. Jones, General Editor
This edition is limited to
five hundred signed copies
of which this is number
Copyright © 1998 by
North Caroliniana Society, Inc.
UNC Campus Box 3930
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514-8890
All rights reserved
Manufactured in the United States of America
My Love Affair with Carolina, by Doris Waugh Betts
Opening Remarks and Introductions, by H. G. Jones
A Lucky Friendship, by Elizabeth; Evans
My Mother, Doris Betts, by Lewellyn Betts
A Litany for Doris Betts, by Max Steele
A Special Announcement, by Michael Hooker and Ben M. Jones III
Presentation of the Award, by Willis P. Whichard
Acceptance of the Award, by Doris Waugh Betts
Photographs of the Occasion, by Fred N. Stipe and J err)' W. Gotten
Chronology, compiled by Elizabeth Evans
Selected Bibliography, compiled by Elizabeth Evans
Cover Photo by Diedra Laird, © 1994 The Charlotte Observer
My Love Affair with Carolina
Doris Waugh Be Us
Delivered in Wilson L ibrary, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
Prior to the Awards Ceremony on 12 June 1998
DORIS BETTS AND FRIENDS, 1994
(Photo by Diedra Laird, © 1994 The Charlotte Observer)
My hove Affair with Carolina
Doris Betts 1
This North Carokniana Society occasion occurs one week after my birthday
and three weeks before I begin what the University calls "phased retirement," so
you'll forgive me for looking back on my long love affair with Carolina — now that
I've reached the age where, people say, the only thing you can sink your teeth into
is a glass.
Actually I have lots more to bite off and chew, and I'm not as old as I hope
to be. They say that the trouble with retirement is that it ruins your Saturdays. At
one retirement dinner the emcee said sweedy, "Now you're going to watch the
sunsets," and the retiree snapped back, "Yes, if I can stay up that late."
But as we read this society's membership list, the guest list, the names of
previous honorees, it's clear that this University has awakened, and kept awake, the
minds of a great many public servants in this state and nation.
Thomas Wolfe called Carolina "the unforgettable place buried in a pastoral
wilderness." Chapel Hill is not so pastoral anymore; some of the wildlife belongs
to fraternities. I've told my English Department chairman that when I retire
there'll be fifty people standing outside my Greenlaw office with tears in their
eyes — waiting to ask for my parking space. In today's traffic, it's hard to remember
that two hundred years ago the first UNC student, Hinton James, walked to
'Society President Willis P. Whichard introduced Dons Betts this way: "Will Willimon, Dean of
the Chapel at a nearby small, new, twentieth-century school, tells of a conversation with a student
in which the student indicated that he was taking Terry Sanford's course on creativity in state
government. The always curious Willimon asked, Well, what's the course about? What's the
subject matter?' 'Oh, I don't know,' replied the student, 'I'm studying him.' Dons Betts's students,
too, may enroll in her courses to study her. If so, they have a worthy subject. This audience would
be well advised to resist that temptation, however. We are going to study Dons in some depth later
this evening. We should now hear what this extraordinary teacher and wnter has to say to us.
Dons, we eagerly await your remarks."
4 DORIS WA UGH BETTS
campus all the way from Wilmington; but what a pleasure it was in May when
Chancellor Hooker recognized his great-great-great-grandson, Theodore Steger.
Freshmen now live in a dorm that bears the name of the first young man who
walked here to have his life changed.
In Chapel Hill, change is always overlaid on history and tradition. If you
arrived in Chapel Hill today over US 15-501 crossing Morgan Creek (named for
early settler Mark Morgan), and if you passed Finley Golf Course, vou were driving
by the site of Mr. Morgan's first residence. Morgan and his wife and all their
children spent the winter of 1 747 inside a giant hollow sycamore log that was over
12 feet in diameter — more crowded than having two roommates and a loft in one
our dorms today.
They say that life is like a camel — it won't back up; but I'd like to back up
my time and the University's parallel time today. The bell tower was built the year
before I was born; you may recall that Gertrude Stein wrote about the young
boxwoods she saw planted about it. Graham Memorial with its beautiful oak-
paneled walls is as old as I am — and will soon be restored to the beauty we
remember as a center for the honors program.
It's hard for us in 1998 to recapture all that this University at Chapel Hill
symbolized to Tar Heel citizens during my childhood. The thirties were such hard
economic times that parents and students didn't think of choosing a college
because Choo-Choo Justice or Lennie Rosenbluth or Charlie Scott were in
residence. My hard-working parents wanted to give me a better life — a richer life
both in income and insight. No one in my family had ever gone to college. North
Carolina did not have twelve grades in our public schools in my parents' youth, so
my father — a textile mill worker — was half puzzled but nine-tenths awed by any
adults who could find the time to keep reading books on into their twenties and
thirties. "In Chapel Hill," he would say, "there are people who read the same book
two or three times."
But Tar Heels on assembly lines and in cotton and tobacco fields felt not
only the same awe that he felt; theirs shaded into an unease, an active nervousness
about Chapel Hill where children might outgrow their raising, where too much
book learning might snuff out common sense. I believe Bill Friday's family didn't
send him here as an undergraduate because they thought the school excessively
liberal. My father's closest friend had graduated here, and people in Statesville
whispered that Summers Caldwell — and he wasn't the only one! — had gone off to
Chapel Hill and learned to be an atheist. I used that theme, that fear of intellectual
MY LO VE AFFAIR WITH C4R0UNA 5
freedom, in an early short story of mine, called "All That Glisters Isn't Gold."
Once my dad came here with his friend on a weekend to visit the campus.
He never got over it. A university wasn't like a cotton mill at all, he said; you
couldn't see what product it was turning out; unlike the weaving of cloth from
thread, you wouldn't know for sure if a mind had been uplifted and nourished for
maybe thirty more years. v\nd you couldn't tell what obstreperous human beings
might do with whatever they had learned. As far as he could tell, both Albert
Schweitzer and Adolph Hitier had been smart and read books.
During that weekend, he stared at these Carolina boys passing on Polk
Place — for all the students then were male. Probably that day in the mid-thirties
he may have brushed elbows with Walker Percy, Shelby Foote, Vermont Royster,
and so on, without a clue to what those boys were thinking and what they would
do with their thoughts.
While in Chapel Hill, Dad bought a little wooden souvenir box of
photographic cards of campus buildings, and at night he would deal these out on
the kitchen oilcloth, like flash cards, so I could name each one: Old East. Manning
Hall. Spencer Dorm. Playmakers Theater. We had no picture yet of the Institute
of Government; I was seven when it was dedicated; and who could have imagined
there would ever be a Dean Dome?
What I've learned since is that ever) 7 older building on this campus might
as well be made of glass — they're all transparent.
Inside Hill Hall is the ghost of the library it used to be. We can see through
the walls of Swain Hall to its former cafeteria that students renamed Swine Hole.
Whenever I pass the old Playmakers Theater I remember that during the Civil War
General Sherman stabled the horses of the Michigan 9 th Cavalry there — which led
to the saying that, ever since, Michigan horses have been known for their
intelligence and Carolina students for their horse sense. Or that the undergrad
admissions office — now Blyden and Roberta Jackson Hall — used to be the
Monogram Club with its carved wooden circus figures that later were exhibited in
the Carolina Inn and now have been transplanted to the Hill Alumni Center.
I learned even 7 card in Dad's wooden box. I wanted to go inside ever}'
building. I wanted to have a Pulpit Hill experience like Thomas Wolfe's, to meet
Walter Spearman and Frank Graham and Howard Odum, to have Phillips Russell
teach me how to write books. In fact, I burned to come here — Christopher Morley
once wrote: "I used to burn, but now I smoulder/that's how I learn I'm growing
In those burning days, before Carolina was overwhelmed with admissions,
Roy Armstrong used to visit high schools and recruit students, so his appearance
in Statesville made me burn even hotter. And after 1940, girls could become
undergraduates, and what if they had to be local residents? That was all right. I
would move . I would sit in the new Forest Theater while Prof Koch taught
Sophocles. Chancellor House would play his harmonica for me. I would see for
myself the thrillingly dangerous communist Milton Abernethy just in time before
6 DORIS WAUGH BETTS
he left Chapel Hill to become a stockbroker.
In the late forties, while Kay Kyser was barnstorming the state to promote
the need for UNC's medical school, the journalism faculty brought me and
hundreds of other high school newspaper editors to campus for a summer institute.
I went into even' building that was not locked. You could walk in the front door
of South Building and straight out the back without anybody asking what you
wanted, and then you could rush through again. The Old Well water had a special
taste. I climbed to the domed reference room in Wilson Library and just sat there,
waiting for knowledge to seep into me by osmosis.
But my family couldn't afford to relocate in Chapel Hill even if I burned
up, and with the help of an escheats scholarship and my mother's savings, I entered
Woman's College the year Uncle Mot's planetarium opened here while Charlie
Justice was still whizzing down-field in his #22 jersey. I did not really reach UNC
until well after the big influx of veterans, not until 1954, when my husband entered
law school and I — hugely pregnant — was understandably excused from P.E. and
still allowed to take classes with Rupert Vance and Hugh Holman. A few years
earlier, the first African-American students had been admitted. We arrived in time
for Hurricane Hazel to shoot a tree limb through our pasteboard house in Victory
Village — $35 a month, with furniture; but it must have been a good address since
at various times that neighborhood was home to Bill and Ida Friday, Bill and Grace
Aycock, Tern and Margaret Rose Sanford.
Last month I met with the reunion class of 1958 — and discovered that
many of my contemporaries had gotten so gray, wrinkled, bald, and fat that they
didn't recognize me. We reminisced about those good old days when the air was
clean and sex was dirty, when there was still diagonal parking on Franklin Street;
we recalled parties at Hogan's lake, Danziger's. We were here when Channel 4
went on the air, when Mr. Friday became president. I worked for the Chapel Hill
Weekly 1 and, on Sundays, Louis and Mim Graves would have Lowry and me over
for bourbon during church hour; we, being married, could have a drink, but
undergraduate Charles Dunn was never served a thing stronger than Coca-Cola.
For eight years after graduation, Lowry practiced law and our family lived
thirty-five miles south, off-campus in Sanford, and I wrote and published some
fiction. When Jessie Rehder and Max Steele gave me the chance in 1966 to teach
here part-time, I outran Br'er Rabbit into the briar patch.
Now I've taught here longer than Skipper Coffin did. I've probably
become one of those self-willed professors Gordon Gray once complained about.
A dry, somewhat unacademic man, Gray said that being Secretary of the Army and
President of the University were similar: the main difference was that the faculty
had no individuals below the rank of general.
By now you're wondering why I'm digging up so much of the past. You
must feel a bit like a child who was helping Grandpa dig potatoes, and who finally
asked wearily, "Grandpa, what made you bury these things anyway?"
But I'm not the only one who'd like to unearth Carolina's tradition, so we
MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH C4R0UNA 7
can extend it and exceed it. Recendy our own undergraduates, led by senior class
president Franklin Golden of Charlotte, have spearheaded an actual university
course in the history of this place. Today's students may have seen "The Lost
Colony," but they've forgotten it goes back to Paul Green in 1937. When they
climb over these rock walls, they'd actually like to remember that these go back to
the time of Elisha Mitchell, that during the Speaker Ban Law a real, live communist
spoke across the rocks into McCorkle Place, and that none of these walls have ever
turned into that fence a certain senator said should be built around the UNC insane
asylum! And although couples strolling through the arboretum may not care right
then to remember that W. C. Coker started it at the turn of the century, they are
this year seeing the wisteria trellis reconstructed, under which someday their future
children may also walk hand-in-hand.
What I wish for today's students and their future children is that they, too,
may fall in love with this university — a love serious enough to support and enlarge
it, a love deep enough to survive the predictable lovers' quarrels. Because
sometimes the Tar Heel public does quarrel with its university, and today there are
fifteen others in the system, plus numerous private and community colleges from
Kitty Hawk to Bat Cave. Sometimes our state catches anti-intellectualism like a flu
epidemic; books get published like Blood on the Old Well; some professor will be said,
like Socrates, to corrupt the young. There will be springtimes like 1 974 when nine
hundred students went streaking naked on Franklin Street, winters when party- boys
stole Christmas decorations, or even a dark season when one schizophrenic student
shot the innocent on a Chapel Hill street. We'll protest Vietnam, promote civil
rights, maybe Carolina will even do something seriously unpopular — like canceling
the Dixie Classic as Bill Aycock did. The barber shops and editorial pages will have
a lot to say about twenty-four-hour visitation, or marijuana, or the Black Cultural
Center. If it's not HEW telling the university what to do, it'll be the DAR, the
UDC, the KKK, or the NRA.
But the real product of the university, that invisible outcome that so
amazed my father when he could see neither assembly line nor final result, will
persist. Alice Palmer defined it best when she was president of Wellesley; she said,
"It is people that count — you put yourself in people, they touch other people;
these, others still, and so you go on working forever."
Her words not only convey my goal of three decades of teaching at
Carolina, but they pull together my own twin careers of teaching and writing while
being nurtured in this very special place. On the page and in the story, as well as
in the classroom, "it is people that count."
By touching the lives of thousands, who then have affected other lives, the
university has done its work for over two hundred years, and I've been one of its
fortunate workers for the past thirty-two. May the results of all these semesters, of
all these classes and dissertations and research and exams, add up to that invisible,
amazing product my father sensed in the 1930s, and may it go on working.
DORIS WAUGH BETTS
Tributes to Doris Betts
Including Proceedings of a banquet on the Occasion of Her
Acceptance of the North Caroliniana Society for 1998
Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill, 12 June 1998
1 DORIS WA UGH BETTS
Opening Remarks and Introductions
H. G. Jones
Twenty years ago, just up the hall in what was then the UNC Ballroom,
Paul Green accepted the first North Caroliniana Society Award. Now, that was
before the advent of the ubiquitous feel-good awards so common today, and the
17 th of March was still nominally St. Patrick's Day. But in 1978 we proclaimed it
St. Paul's Day, the playwright's 84 th birthday. That was a magical evening, as many
in this audience remember. Now, on the twentieth anniversary of the award, we
will share another magical evening, for our 1998 recipient's career and contribu-
tions bear a remarkable resemblance to those of Paul Green in so many ways.
Perhaps the most identifiable difference is suggested in a headline on an Associated
Press story in 1992: "[Dons] Betts saw only male writers but decided to write
anyway." Dons Betts needed no organization to help liberate her; she has always
done things her own way, and we all are richer because of her originality' of
thought, word, deed, and action.
As we prepare for dinner, mav I recognize those at the head table. Will
each stand and remain standing, and will the audience withhold applause until all
have been presented. From my left, President Whichard's wife Leona, Lewellyn
Betts's husband Tom Mroz, long-time friend Liz Evans; and from my right,
daughter Lewellyn Betts, President Willis Whichard; and now will you welcome
Judge Lowry Betts and Dons Betts. [Applause.] Son Erskine and his family are in
Texas on a long-planned vacation, and son David had an emergency assignment
in Raleigh but hopes to join us before the evening is over.
On your program you will find a list of previous recipients of the North
Caroliniana Society Award, and I want to ask each of those present to stand and
remain standing until all have been presented (and again, please withhold your
applause until all have been presented). I am going to ask the widows and spouses
to stand also as their names are called, for none of our recipients earned the award
alone. First is Albert Coates's Gladys. I should remind you that Gladys passed
another birthday recently, and now we have only four years to await 19 May 2002,
when there'll be the biggest party Chapel Hill has ever known. Then in chronolog-
1 2 DORIS WA UGH BETTS
ical order, Bill and Ida Friday, Bill Powell and Virginia, Burke Davis and Judy,
Lawrence London and Dewey, Frank Kenan's Betty, Archie Davis's Mary Louise,
Lyle Sitterson's Nancy, and John Sanders and Ann. [Applause.] Mary and Jim
Semans had planned to be here until one member of that large family suddenly
decided to get married, so they sent flowers and regrets; and Bill Cochrane had an
unpleasant appointment today at the Naval Flospital in Washington.
Not so coincidentally, at this very moment tens of thousands of fellow
North Carolinians are watching Dons Betts: You see, this afternoon Bill Friday
interviewed her for his North Carolina People program on Public Television, and
so by the magic of video, other Tar Heels are also enjoying her wit and wisdom
while you enjoy her physical presence.
Please enjoy your dinner and table mates.
During these last twenty years, we have tned to maintain the tone and spirit
that pervaded that magical evening with Paul Green when, to his absolute shock,
Elizabeth Green rose as the surprise speaker. Most of you have read that touching
essay, "The Paul Green I Know." Because the North Caroliniana Society seeks not
publicity but quiet recognition for those who serve our state, we have never sought
big-name speakers, preferring instead to allow our recipients to spend an evening
with family and friends, the people who know them in all of their humanity. And
so it will be tonight. As usual, we will in die fall publish in our Imprints series both
Doris's marvelous afternoon address and the entire proceedings of the evening, and
you will receive a copy. Incidentally, Neil Fulghum has installed a small exhibit on
Dons in the North Carolina Collection Reading Room in Wilson Library. Drop
by to see it.
The only reason that it has taken us two decades to recognize Doris is
because each year other organizations were honoring her, and we didn't want to
appear to be copying their idea. Finally this year the Board of Directors realized
that the time will never come when Dons is overlooked by others, and so here we
are tonight. It is not just the literary Dons Betts that we so admire and appreciate;
it is the whole woman who brightens our spirits each time we see her — indeed,
each time her name is mentioned.
— One who knew hard work from childhood, who helped put her husband
through law school, who reported for newspapers and did menial jobs while
keeping house and raising a family and honing her writing skills, and who still
lovingly cares for her eighty-six-year-old mother;
— Whose commitment to the fledgling North Carolina Writers Conference
more than forty years ago led her to climb aboard a garbage truck in a frantic (and,
happily, successful) effort to retrieve the checks, cash, and mailing list that an all-
too-efficient janitor at Glen Lennox had assumed to be trash;
— Who lets academic fads and pressure for conformity roll off her back like
MY LO VE AFFAIR WITH CAROLINA 1 3
rain on a duck;
— Who, when told that it might offend certain students to have their
grammar corrected, said "There is an English language and I believe every North
Carolinian ought to be taught to read, write, and speak it";
— Who paid no attention to professsors who criticized her appearance on
the platform with an evangelist, the most famous North Carolinian of our era;
— Who, grieving when not UNC but a sister institution launched the
splendid North Carolina Uterary Review, atoned for the local neglect by organizing the
Second Sunday Readings series, funded by the North Caroliniana Society, that
continues to bring scores of outstanding North Carolina authors to this campus to
be seen and heard not only by the Creative Writing classes but by us, the general
public. (That was a rather novel idea back then; now just look at the schedule of
readings in the local newspapers.)
— Who instinctively responded with a stinging rebuke to a local newspaper
that unjustifiably criticized her judicial husband;
— Who, as the first woman to serve as Chairman of the Faculty, toned
down the rhetoric that had previously lost friends and influenced the wrong people
in the General Assembly, thus helping restore the credibility of the University in
the eyes of its owners, the taxpayers;
— Who devotes more time than anyone from this campus off the campus
speaking before any group, large or small, and considers it not an imposition but
an obligation of a public servant. (I don't have her schedule for this week, but I
read in the paper that on Tuesday at 2:00 she spoke at Carolina Meadows and at
7:30 that evening was holding forth at a Raleigh bookstore; and tomght she must
go home and prepare to serve as master of ceremonies tomorrow at "A Fancy for
Literature" at White Cross, then rush to Asheville for a reading Sunday afternoon.)
How does she do it all?
There is no way for us to encapsulate Doris Betts tonight, or, for that
matter, ever. However, three people who know her well will at least give us
glimpses into the life of this remarkable colleague.
Professor Elizabeth Evans, a native of State sville, received her doctorate
in English from UNC-CH and for twenty-six years taught in the Department of
English at Georgia Tech, retiring as department head in 1990. She now lives in
Jackson County, North Carolina, still teaching from time to time at Western
Carolina University while continuing her writing on literary figures. Her
publications have included biographical studies of Ring Lardner, Thomas Wolfe,
Eudora Welty, and Anne Tyler. Her latest book in the Twayne U.S. Authors series
is titled simply Doris Betts. It contains, in Doris's words, "more facts about me than
I care to remember." Run to the Intimate or the Bullshead tomorrow to get your
copy. A friend of Dons Betts's since childhood, and her literary colleague over the
years, Liz Evans.
[Elizabeth Evans's address begins on page 19.]
1 4 DORIS WA UGH BEITS
For reasons that will become obvious, we are switching the order of the
next two speakers.
I got to know Lewellyn Betts over a "Single Gambler" at the Rathskeller,
and each rime I tried to turn the conversation to her, she would turn it into another
direction. I told her if she didn't give me a little more autobiographical information
I was going to spread the tale that Dons and Lowry found her out in the horse pen
one morning. She responded that when she was born, her parents couldn't afford
a cow, much less a horse. A last-minute e-mail evoked from her this lengthy
autobiography: "I am no writer. I have at various times in mv life worked in
theater, video, and artificial intelligence. ... I am currently the Project Manager of
a 22.5 million dollar research project at the Carolina Population Center and am a
hobby potter." With $22.5 million dollars to spend and characteristics as diverse
as artificial intelligence and potting, Lewellyn should be an ideal character for one
of her mother's future novels. Lowry and Doris's only daughter, Lewellyn.
[Lewellyn Betts's address begins on page 23]
When we discussed possible speakers, Dons wanted one special fnend to
participate. She said, however, that while he was a great teacher, he refused to
speak in public. She added, "He might do it if you ask him and not I," and the
challenge was on. No, he responded, he had made only one speech in his life and
that was a disaster. Both Doris and I knew that nothing he had ever done was a
disaster, and, thanks to the effrontery of e-mail, I kept up the pressure even after
he confided that, to have a proper excuse for not being here tonight, he was
planning a trip to Toronto or London or somewhere this very day. More e-mails
begged him to reconsider — even if only in the form of a letter that we might read
on this occasion. That did the trick, and tonight we have a surprise for Doris, a
portion of which she will hear read aloud by another great fnend and admirer.
President Bill Friday, will you come forward and read Dons's mail?
[President Friday read Max Steele's literary valentine, which beings on page 27.]
A. Eucky Friendship
Dons Betts's contributions to the literary and cultural life of North Carolina
are legion. One endeavor in particular has touched the lives of many people who
are not directiy associated with the University because Dons has been the guest
speaker at public libraries from Murphy to Manteo.
Not long after Souls Raised from the Dead was published, Doris was scheduled
to speak at Western Carolina University, an invitation that quickly spawned an
additional request: would she also speak at our Jackson County Public Library.
Ever generous, Dons agreed. A slight problem emerged because the library talk
was decided upon after our weekly newspaper had appeared on Thursday, so
getting out publicity was hampered. I suggested to Kay Byer — our resident poet
who was in charge — that given the subject matter of Souls Raised from the Dead,
surely many people in our local church congregations would be interested in
coming. Kay agreed and we divided up the churches and headed .for the telephone.
My list began with a Presbyterian church whose minister answered when
I made the call. I identified myself, gave him the pertinent information, and
emphasized the interest people in his congregation would have, particularly in the
spiritual aspects of Betts's novel entitled Souls Raised from the Dead.
There was a slight pause, and then he asked, "Which side is she on?"
"Oh," I said, "she's all for it."
I can't remember when I didn't know Dons Betts, and many memories
revolve around our home terntory of Iredell County and Statesville where we and
our people were, as we say in the South, born and raised. We grew up on the cusp
of the Great Depression which touched our parents' lives sufficiendv and made us
war)' of too high living and any waste. We both knew enough about the farm to
raise our eyebrows years later when a Washington Post article referred to eggs that
were fresh because they "had just been hatched."
Our elementary school years were punctuated with ever-present reminders
16 DORIS WAUGH BE TTS
of World War II ration books, victory gardens, and U.S. Savings Bond Drives.
There were small flags in the windows of many houses and too often a gold star
replaced the living blue one. In this undercurrent of anxiety, movies like Mrs.
Miniver starring Greer Garson and Walter Pigeon gave us hope that if we were just
strong enough for long enough, Dunkirk and the whole war would, one day, be
When Doris graduated from Statesville Senior High School she was named
by her prophetic classmates as the "Most Talented" member of that class; four
years later she would publish The Gentle Insurrection and Other Stories which won the
UNC-Putnam Booklength Manuscript Prize. Our home territory has supplied
some detail in Doris's fiction. The Catawba River that winds through Iredell
County becomes die Katsewa River that winds its way through her first novel, Tall
Houses in Winter, and her third, The River to Pickle Beach. Two houses on Front Street
in Statesville, houses with many rooms and one with an intriguing fish pond, figure
in an autobiographical story entitled "All That Glisters Isn't Gold." At the corner
of South Meeting and Walnut streets in Statesville, an undistinguished municipal
parking lot has replaced the corner's former occupant — the Wallace Brothers
Herbarium, built in 1870, and at that time was reputed to be the largest herbarium
in the world. By the 1940s that establishment had long passed its prime and the
building — windows shattered and sides sagging — had graffiti on the sides just
mysterious enough to intrigue two preadolescent girls in Doris's story "The Spies
in the Herb House," a story in which, as Michael McFee has noted so well, Betts
tells "the oldest, most profound story there is: the story of a fall from innocence
to experience, of a passage from a small safe world into a large dangerous one."
Statesville today has changed since Dons and I grew up there. Enterprising
folk — many of them newcomers — have restored several downtown buildings to
their original 1920s texture, and Walnut Street, always a beauty, is now even more
so and the tall houses there — those in Tall Houses in Winter — are more elegant than
ever. The town square is still there and the town clock still runs. But the familiar
businesses of our early days — Purcell's Drug Store and Robinson's Barber
Shop — are long gone, some replaced with the chain names that homogenize the
We shared, too, an upbringing in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian
church — whose members are generally referred to as ARP's, or as Doris's mother
prefers, "All Right People" — a denomination that was, in our day, sensibly
conservative; today the denomination appears depressingly conservative. To recall
some familiar names in that long ago congregation brings back countless Sunday
sermons and church picnics and week-long revival meetings when we shared the
pews or the choir loft with the Stikeleathers and the Ramseys, the Presslys and the
Ivimmonses, the Axleys and the Deatons, the Wallaces and the Bradfords, the
Robinsons and the Freezes, the Waughs and the Evanses.
When we were growing up, our church did not sing hymns since dieir lyrics
were composed bv mere men; we, instead, sang only from the Psalter whose lyrics,
MYLOl *E AFFAIR WITH CAROLINA 17
of course, came from King David himself. That black-backed Psalter put into our
ears and into our imaginations wonderful images and ambiguities as stringy tenor
and waverv soprano and hopeful bass voices sang that poetry Sunday after Sunday.
I can still remember that #88 in the Psalter (a setting of Psalm 42) began
with these two lines:
"As pants the hart for water's brooks,
So pants my soul, O Lord, for thee."
I dare say that Dons from an early age discerned in these two lines the
successful striking ol a simile, yoking the literal hartvrith the mysterious soul. And
I'm sure she did not confuse the HART in the line with its homophone HEART,
whereas I endured a stressful time worrying about the body's most vital organ as
it struggled and struggled, gasping for the reprieve of water. I must have been at
least ten years old before it dawned on me that the line — "As pants the hart for
water's brooks" — was about a thirsty deer hunting a creek in the woods. It took
longer for the theological point to sink in.
But we sang these psalms — many of them set to exquisite melodies — twice
on Sunday, on Wednesday night, and for a glorious week even- summer in the Blue
Ridge mountains of North Carolina, where the denomination maintains its summer
conference grounds — a place called BonClarken located on highway 25 just across
the road from die Carl Sandburg house and farm.
That early church experience over the years made its way into Doris's
fiction where Biblical allusions do not merely reflect a commonly held tradition,
but are instead portents of theological issues. These issues go deep in Betts's
fiction and fortunate are her readers who readily know the New Testament
parables, who recognize the Old Testament stories of kings and shepherds, who
find the psalmist's lines as familiar as family names, who were raised ARP's.
[I am always delighted when my computer spell-check highlights the
singular possessive Betts's and asks — as if it too recogmzed the import of Doris's
intent — if I didn't really mean to type baptises.]
You here in Chapel Hill have a special claim since you have enjoyed Dons's
presence as colleague for many years, witnessing her distinguished career as
administrator, as teacher, as advisor, as member or chair of endless committees, as
Chair of the Faculty, as lecturer on campus and across the nation. And all of you
assembled here admire her many accomplishments, take pride in the honors that
she has brought to the University and to the State.
Her hometown shares this pnde — and so do I. I remember exactly where
I was in 1954 when I bought a copy of The Gentle Insurrection and Other Stones. I
remember one summer's day in 1965 walking down Franklin Street reading a just-
published copy of The Astronomer and Other Stories and magically crossing even,' side
street without taking my eyes off the page. I remember when the Southern
Humanities Conference met in 1977 at Wake Forest, Doris read her brilliant story
"This Is die Only Time I'll Tell It," a reading that so moved the audience that the
moderator briefly adjourned die session so that people could collect themselves.
18 DORIS WAVGH BETTS
I remember vividly even' piece of fiction Dons has ever published because
her fiction does what Planner)' O'Connor said good fiction should do: It hangs on
in the mind and keeps on meaning.
In the 1997 off-Broadway musical "Violet" — based on Doris's story "The
Ugliest Pilgrim — the show-stopper, a wonderful and rousing song about the game
of poker and life, is called "The Puck of the Draw." My pleasure in Doris's
friendship and my pleasure in reading and writing about her fiction have been for
me a genuine "luck of the draw."
My Mother, Doris Betts
As the children of Doris Betts, my brothers, David and Erskine, and I, have
for all of our conscious lives been responding to what we call "that question." And
by that I mean that sooner or later nearly everyone that we meet gets around to
asking, very casually, of course, "So, tell me, are you by any chance related to Dons
Betts?" And then after we say "Yes," they follow up with, "What's it like to be the
child of a writer?" All of our lives we've been asked this two-part question. From
our grade school teachers to college professors, parents of childhood friends,
neighbors, cashiers in grocery stores whose names I do not know — everyone is
curious. "What's it like to be the child of a writer?"
One might think that at least one result of this regular display of curiosity
would be that I would be well-prepared to deliver this speech this evening, even
eager to deliver it so that we could finally put the matter to rest. After all, there are
more than 200 people here tonight, so it is certainly a perfect opportunity to
provide the definitive answer. But, when the so very persuasive H. G. Jones
contacted me, I was, in fact, not ready at all. For one thing I am not an experi-
enced public speaker and I am certainly no writer. And, more the point, it is a fact
that I have dodged the question every single time it has been posed to me. I have
usually given some off-hand, flippant response and let it go at that. And while I
certainly cannot answer that question in a substantive way tomght, I can and will
share a few memories and thoughts in the hope that maybe this will give you at
least some sense of what it was like.
To start off, one thing that I can tell you is that we Betts kids have always
known that we were very, very lucky; when we were growing up, we were always
aware that we had a special thing going with this particular mother. And
furthermore, the complete and God's-honest truth is that it really did seem to us
that our family life was somehow more exotic and interesting than the lives of
those poor and unfortunate families around us who did not have a writer among
20 DORIS IVAUGH BETTS
them. As adults, we now know, of course, that the fullness of our lives was
because of the person that she was, and is, and not due to her profession. And she
is, of course, still quite exotic.
Dons Betts's great-great-grandmother was a black-haired little Irish girl
who was abandoned at eighteen months of age during one of Ireland's potato
famines. With only a note in her clothing identifying her as being named Maty
Katherine Morrow, she was left on board a ship carrying passengers that were
emigrating to the United States. A shipboard familv named McMurray adopted
her, and eventually they settled in Iredell County, North Carolina, a Scotch-Irish
farming community. A century and a half later, Maty Katherine's great-great-
granddaughter, Dons Waugh, was born.
Flash forward twenty-one years, and I was born. My own earliest sense of
my mother is surprisingly consistent with the picture that I have of her today: a
lively and free-spinted ponv-tailed presence. I have always thought of her as being
fearless and ready for anything. She is a risk-taker in word and in action. She is
one of those writers driven to directly experience events and not just live them
vicariously. She certainly had a zeal for adventure and learning that I never
obsen r ed in other Sanford moms. In addition to being a writer, teacher, wife, and
mother to three children, some of the "secondary" pursuits of her life have
included newspaper woman, school board member, stone career, quilter, weaver,
rose enthusiast, bird-watcher, calligrapher, beekeeper, and horsewoman. She did
not know how to drive a car until she was twenty-eight years old. Two years later
she was zooming around on a red Honda motorcycle. The other Sanford moms
would drive by in their Buicks with their mouths hanging open.
My mother loves to travel, although she nearly died in one of her
adventures when the twin-engine plane in which she was a passenger encountered
a turbulent snowstorm over the Alaskan wilderness and nearly crashed into a
mountainside. She was delighted, even invigorated to expenence this peril. It was
a grand experience, she said, not to be missed.
Dons Betts has never learned to swim and to this day she remains terrified
of deep water. And yet in spite of this, when she was forty years old she and my
dad took a daring two-week raft tnp down the rapids of the Colorado River. Had
she fallen overboard, she could not have saved herself. But for her, the expenence
of the crashing water and the view of the canyon wildlife from a bouncing raft in
the middle of the nver was well worth the nsk of drowning. The next year, she and
my father and brothers went back to the Grand Canyon on a hiking tnp. We
nearly lost her again, this time when she got heatstroke and had to be airlifted out
of the canyon by helicopter. And about that beekeeping that I mentioned earlier:
She finally gave up that hobby after the second time she was rushed to the hospital
in anaphylactic shock. It seems that she'd forgotten to mention to my father that
she was allergic to bees.
One of many happy consequences of being a child of a writer was that we
never had plain ordinan' birds and trees in our back yard. Unlike the neighbors,
MY LO I Ti A FFAIR WITH CAROLINA 2 1
our yard was always teeming with color and excitement. From earliest childhood,
the naming of things has been our mother's grand pursuit. And she made sure that
we, too, observed the yellow-crested Cedar Waxwings and white-breasted
Nuthatches that were flying about. In our yard, we had Red Spider lilies, willow
oak trees, and pesky Blue Jays. Instead of plain yellow flowers, we had King Alfred
daffodils. In my mother's world, nothing in nature ever suffers the indignity of
remaining unnamed. And I have to admit that in speaking out loud the names of
some of the flora in our back yard, I get a feel for the wisdom in that determina-
tion. Just saying their names gives them life in my mind. Mother also used her
passion for language to have fun with her children, as well as to educate. When she
read stories to us — which was several times a day — she acted out all of the
characters and made her voice go all spooky during the scary parts. She still does
this with her grandchildren. Other times, she would just plain make things up.
And those were the best stories, of course. We lucky Betts kids were the only
children in the entire neighborhood who had the full scoop on the castle where
Tinkerbelle really lived and exacdy what the Toodi Fair) 7 did with those teeth when
she had the day off.
Her obsession with naming extends to pets. The names of the first two
dogs of our childhood are a good example. When I was around three and a half
years old, our family was living near the Glen Lennox Shopping Center here in
Chapel Hill. Late one rainy night, some irresponsible person in a pickup truck
tossed a sack full of puppies into the creek by our house. While David and I were
sleeping, my dad went out and rescued the five drowning puppies from the raging
creek. We were thrilled to wake up the next morning to find a kitchen full of
puppies. We, of course, fell in love and wanted to keep them all. I also remember
this particular morning as being the occasion of our very first Bible story. Using
the circumstances of the puppy rescue as a starting point, our mother told us the
tale of a courageous Israelite woman and how she saved her sons' lives by floating
them down river in a reed basket made of bullrushes. In the end, David and I were
allowed to keep two of the puppies. Naturally, Mother named them Aaron and
Moses. Those symbolic names not only signaled the onset of our religious
education and ensured that the memory of my first puppy would never die; these
names also served to impart some small sense of dignity to a pair of otherwise very
homely hound dogs.
I suppose it goes without saying that each and even' room and hallway in
our house had at least one set of bookshelves, often more, and that these shelves
were always in overflow status. That habit continues to this day, in spite of the fact
that she regularly moves books out by the trunk load, donating them to the local
library or maybe a second-hand store. Tins life-long love affair with words and
books and stories also has its quirky, eccentric side. For not only does she adore
words; she is also quite passionate about the accessories to words, the accoutre-
ments to language. I am talking about office supplies! Doris Betts goes crazy for
office supplies; she's mad about them, and a fairly good-sized chunk of her salary
22 DORIS WA UGH BETTS
goes towards feeding this hunger. Every single one of those overflowing
bookshelves has a corner set aside for the latest rage in multicolored post-it notes,
glitter pens, and calligraphy ink. And as you might imagine, she has a weakness for
all writing implements, ink pens in particular, and she is quite reluctant to throw
them away when they run dry. Usually she just sticks them back in the pencil jar;
after all, they have served her well.
I, for one, will be forever grateful for her imparting her love of reading to
me. I know that Mother must have been the person who taught me to read,
aldiough I have no memory of the learning experience. I have no idea how she did
this, because to me reading is simply something I've always known how to do. I
do remember being quite baffled by those first-grade "Dick and Jane" books — so
bewildered, in fact, that I have this vague impression that the teacher might have
implied to my mother that I had a reading disability of some kind. This was a
matter of some concern, as you might imagine, since Mother knew that m fact I
could read quite well. In an effort to find out what was wrong, she had me read
out loud to her from one of the school readers, and from that reading, she quickly
deduced the cause of die problem. As many of you may remember, in those days
the editors of early textbooks substituted pictures for the "difficult" words in the
text, and I simply didn't know how to read the pictures; I'd never been taught that.
My teacher, my mother, had gone straight to words. Anyway, when Jane was
supposed to throw a ball to Spot, I often guessed wrong, and had her pitch a ripe
orange instead. Once Mother figured out what was wrong, the solution for this
natural teacher was easy: She went through each and every one of my schoolbooks
for the year and painstakingly hand-wrote the appropriate word underneath each
of those pictures. I've been reading non-stop ever since. And she's always guided
me wisely in my choices. Many afternoons, I'd come home from school and there
would be a pile of new books on my bed. On weekends, while some families were
watching football on television, ours would take field trips to the Intimate Book
Shop in Chapel Hill or maybe to the Sanford Public Library, just to stock up on
books. When that local public library decided to remove the entire Nancy Drew
collection from its shelves because some higher-up deemed them too frivolous,
Mother wrote a scathing letter to die editor of the local newspaper and got Nancy
reinstated pronto. A year of so later, she saw to it that I read To Kill a Mockingbird
at exacdy the right age and time in my life — I was the same age as Scout. Even
now, whenever she comes to visit, Modier does not come empty-handed. She
always brings a grocery bag stuffed with novels and magazines.
My childhood memories of her are certainly not the conventional pictures
of contented motherhood. For example, I do not have a single memory of Dons
Betts wearing an apron. She was certainly no Harriet Nelson taking her cues from
a Pillsbury commercial. I cannot call to mind one single image of her smiling and
being perky in the kitchen as she baked chocolate cookies for the family. As a
matter of fact the only low grade that Doris Betts ever received in her entire
scholastic life was in the home economics class that she was required to take; she
MY LO VE AFFAIR WITH O1R0UNA 23
earned a "D" in that class at Statesville Senior High school. I know that it's okay
for me to mention her poor showing in home ec tonight because she has always
been rather proud of that "D" and extremely relieved that her talents lay elsewhere.
And other than home ec, I hasten to add, she was a straight "A" student.
Instead of in a kitchen, I will always see my mother hunched over a clunky
black manual typewriter, her fingers flying across that keyboard, or maybe she is
perched in a brown chair in our living room, with her legs curled up underneath.
In either case, I see her surrounded by dog-eared spiral notebooks, pieces of scrap
paper, and yellow legal pads, every single page full of stories and notes. If she is
in the chair, one of those notebooks is on her lap and she has been writing
longhand, her method of choice. She holds a blue fountain pen in her right hand,
a lighted Kent cigarette in the other, and there are a backup pen and cigarette
holder stuck behind her ears. The only movements in the room are the ashes
dropping from her cigarette onto the floor. She's very still for a long while,
frowning and staring off into some faraway place, trying to make a connection with
the muse, I guess.
There is so much more to be said, but I will end with one last comment.
I am convinced that very few of us can honestly say that we have ended up in the
profession best suited to our talents and spirit, or that we are living exactly the right
lifestyle fitting our needs and habits. My mother is the rare exception. She could
never have been anyone other than who she is, a writer and teacher. I have never
met anyone else quite like her. She would probably insist that her particular spark
is nothing special, but I have learned that the opposite is true. She is indeed
unique, and yet I see flickers of her personality in every good person that I meet.
Dons Betts is an original light, and a giver of light; her wisdom and humanity have
transformed lives, beginning with those of my brothers and me.
A. Utanyfor Doris Betts
It all began so simply, our careers in 1966. Both of us brought to campus
by that wonderful woman, Jessie Rehder, with her classical Peck and Peck bird-nest
hat which she used upside-down as an ash tray. You as a part-time, one-time
instructor. Me as a one-year Wnter-in-Residence. Then suddenly she is dead and
all we have is a stack of student papers from her bedside, corrected and graded, her
last duty done, with the note secured by a red rubber-band, that says in her blunt
way: "I do not want to die."
Once, after a bad quarrel with her beloved savior, Anne Sullivan Macy,
Helen Keller left a note on her good mentor's desk: a note, a definition. "Teacher,
and jet again, Teacher/ and that is all/ and it will be my answer when Death calls."
So I take over the creative writing program with the promise from Carroll
Hoiks that you will be hired full-time. What a boon for the University, aye, for the
State that decision has been. Mainly for the hundreds, even thousands, who have
sat in your classes. The oldest are now 55. More important, the youngest are 18.
Which means that with average life spans they will be quoting you in the year 2060.
No, you must not let that depress you. Half of them will, as on exams, quote the
exact opposite of what you really said. So little Southern boys and girls will be
erroneously hearing that short stories should begin with a character waking up and
should end in suicide and that women characters should be in a room alone,
remembering when. Or out clinging to run-away horses while nuns rush out to
save them. Yes, you will be misquoted. But will people be reading anyway? At
least they will have sat in your class. Or stood the first few days waiting for a lazy
registered student to drop the class.
We love those who help us grow: parents, coaches, teachers.
Do not let them make an icon out of you.
What will save us is not icons but teachers. You had your good mentors:
MY LO VE AFFAIR WITH C/1R0LINA 25
Jessie Rehder, Hugh Holman, and Fanny Grey Patton. And I at UNC: H. K.
Russell and Sam Selden. Lineage is important in a university. Continuity.
Oprah Cummings, for instance, who guards the chairman's meager funds.
When we wanted to mail a letter we have to go down the three flights of stairs in
Murphy and over to Bingham to get a stamp from her.
We begin then with three courses in fiction. One in poetry. And the years
pass until we have fourteen courses a semester and eleven full- and part-time
teachers. Now when you say "we" you include Daphne. Now when I say "we" I
include Daphne. We are the backbone. Certainly there are others: Marianne
Gingher, Kirkpatrick, Seay, Bland, Carolyn Kizer, Lee Smith, Harmon, even Betty
Smith and the great Bill Blackburn. (And even Louis Rubin who after his great
success with young writers at Algonquin is generously teaching without pay an
honors seminar once a week. But it is not quite successful in that many of our best
writers graduate without taking the course.) At least twenty teachers over the thirty 7
years. Most of them teaching only one section while you, Daphne, and I teach two
and three. Always you are in on every decision about teaching and teachers.
Years go by. Students from our program are doing well in graduate
programs across the country.
Your students come to us beautifully prepared. They know what a story
is, how to write dialogue, how to line-edit and cut, how, most important, to read.
Maybe you are teaching self-discipline without knowing that that is your prime
subject matter. You stop cold-turkey from two pack of cigarettes a day and claim
for six months there is not a second when you are not desperate for another. At
night you dream you're chain-smoking and wake up two or three times dreaming
you have set the bed on fire. You continue to teach your students with exquisite
consideration while at any second you may bite your fountain pen in two.
To women you teach a more subtle lesson: a woman can have everydiing
and be successful in all areas: mother, wife, writer, teacher, administrator, colleague,
friend. Perhaps that is a dangerous lesson. Society has not progressed fast enough.
A promise too early is a big cause of prison riots.
We love those who help us grow: parents, coaches, teachers.
Now Jessie Rehder's students are being published and are famous. Russell
Banks and Lawrence Naumoff in the classes we inherited from Jessie Rehder are
gaming attention. Soon come the national campus problems of Viet Nam War
protestors. General madness on the campuses. Our students are not breaking
plate-glass windows or burning buildings. The revolt here is gentler. One student
hangs a placard on Davie Poplar that says "Davie Poplar is an oak." There is a
darker element too.
The corridor near your office door is crowded with students. You counsel
now as much as teach. Is there such a thing as professor-client privilege in the
alarming things they tell us about dope, about shocking affairs? Your Presbyterian
training guides you. You guide us.
A graduate student wakes being stabbed with an ice pick. She has been
26 DORIS WA UGH BETTS
editor of the Quarterly, a good student, but after weeks in hospital, she leaves town
in fear of her life.
Do you remember late one afternoon, the offices are shutting down and
you walk by my office and a huge dirty-blond guy who says he wants in the
program? He is over thirty and not a student and is sitting between me and the
door asking insinuating questions in a sneering voice. I do not know if you hear
and I do not want to involve you because I sense danger in him. You pause at the
door and leave the building. Thirty minutes later I still have not figured how to get
past him to the door. His silences are malignant. For the rest of my life I will
know the odor of evil is the rubberv smell of bare feet in dirty sneakers. I have no
doubt that when he stares at the floor and grins he is seeing there my blood.
Finally, he mentions beer, and I say, "I'll buy you one" and walk him to the
Carolina Coffee Shop. There at the door is where the bus stops that will take me
home. I buy him a pitcher of beer, and he has just drained his first glass when a
bus arrives. I run out and get on. The phone is ringing when I open the door to
my house. It is you saying, "Thank God. When vou didn't answer in your office
or here, I put my pistol in my glove compartment and was just coming to get you."
Later, reluctantly, you tell me you have good reason to believe he was a suspect in
the early dawn stabbing of the graduate student.
Yes, one can teach writing. And one can teach courage, and the meaning
Do not let them make an icon of you.
Now ten years have passed and of course the administration has discovered
you and you are on every university committee, first as the token woman, for there
are few to go around in these days, and then as an influential voice and finally as
a wise force. Later you are Chairman of the Faculty. Years later when I ask you
what is the honor that has meant most to you, you say "The Tanner Award for
Excellence in Teaching." And when I ask why, you say "Because it was voted to
me by the students."
We have perhaps the best undergraduate program in the country. Our
former students are being published. Thirty books, forty, fifty. Over a dozen
publish writers. Many by Rubin at Algonquin.
Teacher, and yet again, Teacher, I and that is all. . . .
The hall around your office door remains crowded with students, sitting on
the floor, waiting to be next. What are you telling them that is so urgent? Surely
more than the rest of us are teaching. I know you teach grammar as the essential.
But what else? Now when I need to talk to you I have to go back to my office and
phone your office. They follow you to your car as they had Jessie Rehder and no
other. You know the answer they need: self-knowledge is the goal of a liberal arts
We love those who help us grow: parents, coaches, teachers.
Over the years you have grown enormously too. So do you love those who
have taught you? The deans, the provosts, the presidents who have so overworked
MY LO KE AFFAIR WITH CAROLINA 27
you? Your commencement speech about your own education is classic, with that
flippant Doris line: "We have seen TV grow from infancy to adultery." Your
overwork has aged you but not the sparkle. How can you teach as diligendy as ever
with all the work they have loaded on you? You have learned much but never to
say "no" to a burden or request. I watch you cross the campus loaded down with
a stack of work an ambitious dean has given you to be returned overnight.
The words come to mind: "I have done the State some service and they know it
How can you have so many burdens in South Building, in Greenlaw, on
your horse-farm, and still write so many books and so many notes on so many
manuscripts in that clear, tiny handwriting? What a splendid textbook on fiction
writing your corrections would make if collected!
You are all day all over campus, eating crackers for lunch, running between
meetings and class. So now when I need answers I have to phone you at home.
Over the years I have heard: "Max, can I call you back? I'm about to lose a mare
and her unborn colt and my hands are bloody." "Max, his brother has fallen on the
steps and I think he's broken both arms." "Max, I've just been up to the highway
and seen where my son went through the back window of the pick-up. I am still
being sick to my stomach and have got to shower." "Max, I'll call you tomorrow.
She's turned the refrigerator over. There's mayonnaise and broken glass all over
the linoleum and she's barefooted." It is no wonder that you refer literature back
to life and life back to literature and not as the decadent academics do: literature
back to theory and theory back to literature. With life left out.
No, they must not make an icon out of you. The world needs a Renais-
sance woman with real flesh and blood and bones and, above all, guts.
I do not like to think of all those women who believe it is easy or even
possible to be like you. Some day there will be a Depression known as The Doris
Betts Syndrome. Women on Prozac, Women on booze, Women on dope. Maybe
even Women on bullets, because you have made it look easy and obtainable. What
an impossible model to copy! Yet I agree: The day will come for their fulfillments.
Now we are getting one or two books a year from former students. I count
over seventy, including those published by Rubin at Algonquin. Our under-
graduate program is recognized as the best in the states. It is secure. But I am
burning out as a reader and thus as a teacher. It makes me physically sick to pick
up a stack of manuscripts. I can no longer respond emotionally to words on a
page. Out of fairness to students I will seek early retirement. How, how do you
go on with such enthusiasm, such bright-eyed brilliance? How can you bear to
look at another manuscript?
Once I derived a plausible theory that you were triplets and that that was
how you did it all. Dons C, the farm-hand housewife; Dons B, the administrator;
and, above all, Doris A, the writer-teacher. I begin to believe absolutely in my
At a party one night I divulge this theory to Lowry, and one never knows
28 DORIS WAUGH BEITS
what the Judge thinks. Encouraged by his silence, I ask, "How does it feel to live
in a house with three attractive women, but to be married to only one of them?
How do you tell them apart?" And he answers, "That's their problem."
So now I have retired and years go by in which I never see you. Five years,
ten. But I hear better and better reports of your writing, your teaching. Will you
never burn out? And then one mght I break my hermit life to have dinner with a
thoroughly unassuming, almost humble man and we talk about you and his
excitement at having met you. I tell him that whatever else, there will never be a
better teacher. He mentions he would like maybe to give some money to the
writing program. Then the announcement comes: The man, Ben Jones III, is
willing to put up a third of the million dollars for a Dons Betts Distinguished
Professorship in Creating Writing.
The uncloseted sentimentalist, Betty Smith, has a line in A Tree Grows in
Brooklyn in which Francie in a moment of joy says, "My Cup runneth over." I feel
and think that mine does too. Do you remember the day when Miss Cummings
gave you not one but three stamps? And when you went back the next day she
asked, "What did you do with all those stamps I gave you yesterday?" A million
Now you have taught for over thirty years, longer than any other UNC
creative writing teacher I know, except for that grand and considerate Phillips
Russell, who began the writing programs on campus in 1934 and taught most
elegantly, first in the English Department, and then in Journalism until 1968.
"I have done the State some service and they know it well. . . ."
We started so simply in 1966 our teaching careers. Your hard work and
destiny have moved you more and more into a public life. Mine, through inborn
nature, and my soul's demand, has earned me the right to a more and more private
life. Sometimes when I think of those days of building up the Creative Writing
Program and teaching our hearts out, you seem so important and essential and so
very far away.
Last mght, by chance, I opened a volume that contained both Out of Africa
and Shadows in the Grass. Isaac Demsen has gone back to Denmark. Kamante, the
little native she has found, his legs covered with sores, in the roadside grass near
her home, has gone down to Nairobi to dictate a note. He has sought out a scribe
to perform the task of writing a letter to his teacher who has taught him English,
cooking, dignity, and a way out of miser)'. He dictates to the scribe his letter of
wonderment and love, and he ends it with the simple words, with which I, too, will
end my note to you: "May God bless you now and then."
A. Special Announcement
[At this point Chancellor Michael Hooker was invited to the podium for
a special announcement. The chancellor revealed that as a result of a generous
offer from an admirer of the honoree, a Dons Betts Distinguished Professorship
in Creating Writing was being proposed. The admirer had offered to give a third
of die million dollars needed to establish the endowed professorship; another third
would be raised by a committee headed by William M. Moore, Jr., of Raleigh, and
the remaining third would be provided from state funds. Chancellor Hooker then
introduced the admirer, Ben M. Jones III of Hendersonville, North Carolina, and
Naples, Florida, who recounted diat he had been so impressed by Professor Betts's
influence as a teacher, writer, and public servant that he wanted to assure the
continued primacy of the creative writing program by helping to create a position
that would honor the name of Dons Betts and attract future teachers /writers to
carry on the Betts tradition at the University. The chancellor thanked Ben Jones
and then accepted a check for $1,000.00 from the North Caroliniana Society as the
first contribution in the public drive for matching funds.]
Presentation of the A.ward
Willis P. W hie hard, President of the Society
When in 1991 the Society expressed a desire to acquire a tangible symbol
of its annual North Caroliniana Society Award (previously the award had been in
the form of a certificate), it called upon board member John Sanders, whose
interest in and knowledge of silver is well known. That confidence was not
misplaced, for John and his wife Ann located and the Society purchased the sterling
two-handled cup that sits before you. This is not just "another" cup; it already had
a distinguished history connecting the family of Thomas Jefferson with that of
Calvin Coolidge. The story, too lengthy to be repeated at this .hour, will be found
in the Society's annual report for 1990-1991. The trophy was appropriately
engraved with the wording, "The North Caroliniana Society Award for distin-
guished contributions to North Carolina history and culture." Then, to provide for
its proper exhibition in the North Carolina Collection, John and Ann designed and
arranged for the crafting of a handsome mahogany stand, together with silver plates
on which the names of recipients are engraved. The entire ensemble graces the
North Carolina Collection Reading Room. Tonight, however, we are privileged to
see the cup and its upper base on the table in front of us.
John and Ann also selected modest sterling tumblers, one of which is
appropriately engraved and presented to each recipient. The simplicity of the
tumbler is emblematic of the North Caroliniana Society's dedication to "Substance,
not Show," the most essential quality that we seek in each year's recipient.
This year's recipient epitomizes substance over show. Dons, please step
forward to accept this symbol of the North Caroliniana Society Award and for such
remarks as you wish to make.
Acceptance of the Award
Doris Waugh Betts
Once when Jack Benny received an award, he responded by saying, "I don't
deserve this, but then I have arthritis and I don't deserve that, either."
But this has been a night I'll never forget, undeserved or not. If I were
standing any taller, my ears would pop. Aristotle said, "Without friends no one
would choose to live." I would insert "friends and family."
Lately the media have been firm in their rejection of "recovered memo-
ries," often dredged up by means of hypnosis, but maybe we parents should
concentrate on our children's plain memories! Maybe we could hypnotize our
children to forget . Thank you, Lewellyn, but I hope that D in home economics
doesn't make these academics rethink the whole thing!
And it's just like Max Steele, who never wants to be thought of as
sentimental, to send me a lump in the throat long distance. If it were not for Max,
I would not be standing here tonight, and if it were not for the example of his
remarkable teaching, I'd have given up classroom work early.
And Liz Evans, who learned more about me than she cared to know while
she was writing her biography for Twayne, has still surprised me with her fresh
eloquence. She's also a product of the First A.R.P. Church of Statesville, North
Carolina, and a walking instance of the Protestant work ethic.
As for the instigation of a Betts Chair in Creative Writing, Chancellor
Hooker and Ben Jones have simply overwhelmed me. On behalf of future students
who will benefit, I thank you from the heart.
I'm touched and grateful for all of tonight's speakers, and also to all of you
who have come tonight to remind me of how much I owe to how many.
Those of you who suffered through this afternoon's talk about my love for
this university already know that the North Carokniana Society Award is especially
symbolic to this Gemini who just passed one more relentless birthday and who
next month will be entering phased retirement.
But my mood — especially after this evening — is of celebration, not
32 DORIS WAUGH BETTS
As Gypsy Rose Lee once said, "I've got everything I had thirty years ago,
except now it's a lot lower."
I hope on this new schedule to read more published books in addition to
student manuscripts; it's hard just to keep up with the outpouring of writing talent
by friends and neighbors during this renaissance of literary output in North
Carolina. And I hope to write more fiction myself, and to ignore the smart aleck
who once said, "I hear you're writing a book — why don't you just buy one; it's
I'll also keep reading the growing amount of good prose by our own
creative writing graduates. You know what they say about university graduates: an
alumnus who got a science degree goes out into the world asking "Why does it
work?" The engineering major asks "How does it work?" An accounting student
now out in the world asks "How much will it cost?" But the Carolina grad who
studied creative writing asks "Do you want fries with that?"
Producing stories and poems may not be a good way to make a living, but
it's a wonderful way to make a life.
In closing I want to thank all of you for reminding me how fortunate I am,
how blessed by friends and family, how contented by the thirty-two years of doing
the work that mattered most to me.
You can picture me later tonight as praying the same prayer as the child
who knelt to say, "Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it.
I'm having a real good time as it is."
Thank you for this "real good time."
MY LO WS AFFAIR WITH O4R0UNA
NORTH CAROUNIANA SOCIETY AWARD RECIPIENTS
Fawrence F. London
Sam J. Ervin, Jr.
Frank H. Kenan
Gertrude Sprague Carraway
North Carolina Collection
John Fries Blair
Archie K. Darns
William C. <&Ida H. Friday
H. G. Jones
William S. Powell
FeRoj T Walker
Maty D.B.T <& James Semans
J. Carlyle Sitterson
Hugh MacRae Morton
William McW horter Cochrane
John F. Sanders
Emma Neal Morrison
Doris Waugh Betts
DORIS WAUGH BETTS
Dons Betts delivered her touching public address, "My Love Affair with Carolina, " before a capacity
audience. Then at the banquet she listened as Chancellor Michael Hooker (left) introduced Ben M. Jones
III, who pledged a third of the proposed million-dollar-endowed Dons Betts Distinguished Professorship
in Creative Writing. (All photos by Fred Stipe and Jerry Cotten unless otherwise indicated.)
MY LOl^E AFFAIR WITH C/1R0LINA
Dons Betts listens to tributes by (left to right, top to bottom) H. G. Jones, Elizabeth Evans, Hewellyn
Betts, and William Friday (reading a literary valentine from Max Steele); accepts award from President
Willis Whichard; gives a response; poses with son-in-law Thomas Mro% daughter Hewellyn, and Doris's
husband, Judge Howry M. Betts; and joins Chancellor Hooker, Ben Jones, and Howry Betts.
DORIS WAUGH BETTS
More than 200 friends recognised Doris's distinguished career with their presence at the banquet and
reception in the Carolina Inn. Among them were (all with Doris) President Molly Broad; Burke Davis
and daughter Angela Davis -Gardner; Holly Mack Bell; John and Ann Sanders; John Justice; Leslie
Boney, Jr.; Mary and Harry Gatton; and Judge Dickson Phillips.
MY LO VE AFFAIR WITH CAROLINA
More Friends: Doris Betts and Frances Mason; Anna Hayes Rag/and, Mary Louise Davis, and Betty
Kenan; Rollie Tillman, Sally Davis, and Archie H. Davis; Betty Kenan and Carmen and Michael
Hooker; Nancy Lilly and Julia Jones Daniels; Lew and Dannye Romine Powell and Jack Betts;
Marcella Grendler and Wesley and Carolyn Wallace; Trent and Anna Hayes Ragland.
DORIS WAUGH BETTS
And more friends: Nancy Lilly and Georgia Carroll Kyser; Charles Shaffer and Trent Ragland; Milly
Barranger and Anna Rag/and Hayes; Shelby Stephenson and "Laurence Avery; Mary Louise Dams,
Betty Kenan, and Carmen Hooker; Amanda Stipe, Gladys Coates, and Fred Stipe; Doris Betts and Bob
Anthony; and Dons Betts and Florence Peacock.
Compiled by Elizabeth Evans
1932 Doris June (Waugh) Betts born 4 June in Iredell County, North
Carolina, only child of William Elmore and Mary Ellen (Freeze)
1946-1950 Works part-time on Statesville Daily Record.
1950 Graduates from Statesville High School.
1 950-1 953 Enters Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (now
University of North Carolina at Greensboro); leaves without
finishing a degree.
1950-1957 Works as stringer for UPI and various North Carolina newspapers.
1952 Marries Lowry Matthews Betts, a law student, who retires from
legal career in 1997 as district judge of Chatham and Orange
1953 Awarded Phi Beta Kappa; wins Mademoiselle College Fiction
Contest for "Mr. Shawn and Father Scott" (included in Best Short
Stories of 1953); daughter Doris Lewellyn Betts born; family moves
to Chapel Hill.
1 953-1 954 Works part-time on Chapel Hill Weekly.
1954 Wins UNC-Putnam Booklength Manuscript Prize for The Gentle
Insurrection and Other Stories; teaches typing for North Carolina
Highway Patrol; son David Lowry Betts born.
1955-1957 Works as office manager and secretary-treasurer for Simplified
Farm Record Book Company (advertising, printing), Chapel Hill.
1956 Serves as editor of North Carolina Writers News for the North
Carolina Writers Conference.
1957 Family moves to Sanford, North Carolina; Lowry Betts joins law
firm of Pittman and Staton; publishes first novel, Tall Houses in
1957-1958 Works full-time as feature writer and daily columnist for Sanford
1958 Wins Sir Walter Raleigh Award for fiction.
40 DORIS WAUGH BETTS
1958-1959 Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship in Creative Writing.
1958-1960 Serves on editorial board of TV. C. Democrat.
1960 Works as full-time editor, Sanford News-Leader, son Erskine Moore
1962-1964 Serves on North Carolina Charter Tercentenary Commission.
1 964 The Scarlet Thread published.
1965 Wins Sir Walter Raleigh Award again.
1 965 The Astronomer and Other Stories published.
1966-1974 Joins English Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill, as lecturer.
1970 Creative Writing: The Short Story published (textbook for correspon-
dence course, Extension Division, University of North Carolina at
1971 Is visiting lecturer in creative writing at Duke University.
1 972 The River to Pickle Beach published.
1972-1978 Serves as director of Freshman-Sophomore English, University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
1 973 Beasts of the Southern Wild and Other Stories is finalist for the National
Book Award; wins Tanner Award for distinguished undergraduate
teaching; wins Six Walter Raleigh Award for third time.
1974 Promoted to associate professor, University of North Carolina at
1975 Receives the North Carolina Award for Literature, the state's
highest award for literary achievement.
1975-1976 Named director of North Carolina Fellows Program, University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
1978 Promoted to professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill; named to National Humanities Faculty.
1978-1980 Serves on Literature Panel, National Endowment for the Arts,
1978-1981 Named assistant dean, Honors Program, University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.
1980 Named Alumni Distinguished Professor, University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill; wins Katherine Carmichael Award for
teaching; inducted into Order of the Golden Fleece; elected to
membership in the North Carokniana Society; moved with
husband to Araby Farm, Pittsboro, North Carolina.
1981 Heading West published. Violet (film version of "The Ugliest
Pilgrim") wins Academy award for Best Short Feature; wins Special
Grand Jury Award, Houston Film Festival.
1981-1984 Serves on Board of Governors, University of North Carolina Press.
1982-1985 Elected chair of the faculty, University of North Carolina at Chapel
MY LO VE AFFAIR WITH CAROLINA 41
1983 Wins John Dos Passos Award; wins Distinguished Service Award
for Women (Chi Omega).
1984 Serves as judge for PEN-Faulkner Awards.
1985 Beasts of the Southern Wild and Other Stones is included in 3 by 3.
Masterpieces oj the Southern Gothic.
1986 Named a Celebrated Teacher by the Association of Departments
of English, Modern Language Association; Dons Betts Teaching
Award established by the English Department of the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill; serves as consultant to Southern
Growth Policies Board and writes report, Halfway Home and a Long
Way to Go.
1987 Nominated as candidate for chancellor, University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.
1988 Serves as consultant to Florida Forestry Commission and writes
report, Turning Over a New Leaf.
1988-1989 Named chair, Committee on Athletics and the University, Univer-
sity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
1989 Awarded Medal of Merit in the Short Story, American Academy
and Institute of Arts and Letters; wins Salem Award for Literary
Achievement; awarded honorary degree, University of North
Carolina at Greensboro.
1991 Wins R. Hunt Parker Memorial Award, North Carolina Literary
and Historical Association, for literary achievement; wins Univer-
sity of North Carolina Alumni Award for distinguished teaching.
1992 Wins John Tyler Caldwell Award, North Carolina Humanities
Council; named faculty director, University of North Carolina
Publishing Institute; named to Board of Trustees, Union Theologi-
cal Seminary, Richmond, Virginia; named to Board of Trustees,
National Humanities Center; elected to Fellowship of Southern
1994 Souls Raised from the Dead published; named on New York Times list
of 20 best books for 1994.
1995 Wins Southern Book Award, Southern Book Critics Circle.
1997 Receives Ethel Fortner Writer & Community Service Award from
St. Andrew's Presbytenan College; Violet, a musical based on "The
Ugliest Pilgrim," opens in New York and wins eight awards; The
Sharp Teeth of Love published.
1998 Receives the North Carolimana Society Award for distinguished
contributions to die history, literature, and culture of her native
(Through mid-1 99S]
Compiled by Elizabeth Evans
Tall Houses in Winter. New York: G. P. Putnam's, 1957; London: Cassell, 1959;
Milan: RizzoLt, 1959; New York: Curtis, 1973.
The Scarlet Thread. New York: Harper and Row, 1964; New York: Curtis, 1973.
(Copyright date in the front matter indicates publication in 1964; however,
on the dust jacket, 0165 indicates that publication was delayed until January
The River to Pickle Beach. New York: Harper and Row, 1972; New York: Curtis,
1973; New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1995.
Heading West. New York: Knopf, 1981; New York: Signet American Library, 1982;
New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1995.
Souls Raised from the Dead. New York: Knopf, 1994; New York: Scribner Paperback
The Sharp Teeth of Love. New York: Knopf, 1997.
The Gentle Insurrection and Other Stories. New York: G. P. Putnam's, 1954; London:
The Astronomer and Other Stories. New York: Harper and Row, 1965; Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1996.
Beasts of the Southern Wild and Other Stories. New York: Harper and Row, 1973;
Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 1985.
MY LO VE AFFAIR WITH CAROLINA 43
Selected Critical Articles
"The Arts in Red and Gold." In Nine from North Carolina: An Exhibition of Women
Artists, 8-10. Washington, DC: National Museum of Women in the Arts,
"Brief Prose, Long Subjects." South Atlantic Quarterly 72 (1965): 283-295.
"Confessions of a Literature Panelist." The Culture Post 6 (March- August 1981): 6-9.
"Daughters, Southerners, and Daisy." In The Female Tradition in Southern Literature,
edited by Carol S. Manning, 259-276. Urbana: University of Illinois Press,
"The Fiction of Anne Tyler." Southern Quarterly 21, no. 4 (1983): 23-37.
"The Fingerprints of Style." In Voicelust: Light Contemporary Fiction Writers on Style,
edited by Allen Wier and Don Hendrie, Jr., 7-22. Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press, 1985. (First published in Black Warrior Review 10, no. 1
: 171-184.) ' '
"Forward" [sic). In New Southern Writing, edited by Moira Crone, l-v. Baltimore:
"From the Virgin Mary to Rosacoke." In Critical Essays on Reynolds Price, edited by
James A. Scruff, 302-311. New York: G. K. Hall, 1998.
"The Goal of a Realist." In The Store of Joys. Writers Celebrate the North Carolina
Museum of Art's Fiftieth Anniversary, 93-95. Winston-Salem: John F. Blair,
"The House by the River: Ovid Williams Pierce." South Atlantic Quarterly 64 (1965):
Introduction to Southern Women Writers: The New Generation, edited by Tonette Bond
Inge, 1-8. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1990.
"Keeping All the Options Open: The Christian Vocation in the Secular Academy."
Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion 11 (1995): 69-73.
"Learning to Balance." In Of Fiction and Faith: Twelve American Writers Talk about
Their Vision and Work, edited by W. Dale Brown, 1-28. Grand Rapids: W.
B. Eerdmans, 1997.
"Many Souths and Broadening Scale: A Changing Southern Literature." In The
Future South: A Historical Perspective for the Twenty-First Century, edited by Joe
P. Dunn and Howard L. Preston, 158-187. Urbana: University of Illinois
"Memento Mori." In Things in Heaven and Earth: Exploring the Supernatural, edited
by Harold Fickett, 185-197. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 1998.
"The Mothers, Yes; the Feminists, Maybe Not." In Rediscovering Vardis Fisher:
Centennial Essays, edited by Joseph M. Flora. Forthcoming.
"Randall Garrett Kenan: Myth & Reality in Tims Creek." In Southern Writers at
Century's End, edited by Jeffrey J. Folks and James A. Perkins, 9-20. Lexing-
ton: University Press of Kentucky, 1976.
44 DORIS WAUGH BETTS
"Tyler's Marriages of Opposites." In The Fiction of Anne Tyler, edited by C. Ralph
Stephens, 1-15. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1990.
"Undergraduate Creative Writing Courses." ADE Bulletin 79 (Winter 1984): 34-36.
"Whispering Hope." Images: A Journal of the Arts and Religion 7 (Fall 1994): 80-84.
Selected Miscellaneous Publications
"Boiling the Wolfe." North Carolina Education 4, no. 8 (1974): 12-14.
"Doing Lunch." New Harmony journal 2, no. 1 (28 August 1995): 1-2.
"Fiction Induction and Deduction." Arts in Society 2, no. 1 (Summer- Fall 1974):
"The First 'Good Ole Girl.'" Life, March 1990, 126-132.
Eiteracy Is Everybody's Business: The Power oj the Word, with Robert Donnan. Report
of the Southern Regional Literacy Commission, Southern Growth Policy
Board. Research Triangle Park, NC, n.d.
"My Grandfather Haunts This Farm." Saturday Evening Post, January-February 1977,
My Love Affair with Carolina. Chapel Hill: North Caroliniana Society, 1998.
"Slow-Change Artist" [ "Faith and Intellect" address]. HIS: Monthly Maga-^ine jor the
College Christian 43, no. 7 (1983): 4-6.
Turning Over a New Eeaf: People and Trees Together, edited by Doris Betts. Tallahassee:
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service Division of
Forestry, March 1989.
Kimball, Sue Laslie, and Lynn Veach Sadler, eds. The "Home Truths" of Doris Betts.
With a bibliography. Proceedings of the Eighth Annual Southern Writers
Symposium. Favetteville: Methodist College Press, 1992.
Reisman, Rosemary M, and Christopher }. Canfield. Contemporary Southern Women
Fiction Writers. An Annotated Bibliography, 57-64. Magill Bibliographies.
Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1994.
Scura, Dorothy M. "Dons Betts." In Fifty Southern Writers after 1900: A Bio-
Bib liographical Source Book, edited by Joseph M. Flora and Robert Bain, 53-
63. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987.
Criticism and Interviews
Alderson, Laura. "An Interview with Dons Betts." Poets and Writers 20, no. 1
MY LO I <E AFFAIR WITH CAROLINA 45
Brown, W. Dale. "Interview with Dons Berts." Southern Quarterly 34, no. 2 (1996):
. "The Big Questions. An Interview with Dons Berts." The Christian
Century 114 (8 October 1997): 870-875.
Cockshutt, Rod. "Q&A with Dons Berts." Tar Heel: A Magazine of North Carolina
(December 1981): 44-49.
Coleman, John C. "The Scarlet Thread." In Survey of Contemporary Literature, edited
by Frank N. Magill, 6647-6649. Rev. ed., Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem,
Evans, Elizabeth. "Negro Characters in the Fiction of Dons Berts." Critique 17,
no. 2 (1975): 59-76.
. "The Mandarin and the Lady: Doris Betts's Debt to Amy Lowell."
Notes on Contemporary Literature 6, no. 4 (1976): 2-5.
. "Another Mule in the Yard: Dons Betts's Durable Humor." Notes on
Contemporary Literature 11, no. 2 (1981): 5-6.
. "Conversations with Dons Betts." South Carolina Remew28, no. 2 (1996):
. Doris Betts. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1998.
. "Dons Betts's 'Beasts of the Southern Wild': Miscegenation as Theme;
Donne and Yeats as Allusive Sources." South Carolina Review, forthcoming.
. "Interview with Dons Betts." Kalliope. A Journal oj Women's Art,
Ferguson, Maty Anne. "Dons Betts." In American Women Writers, edited by Lina
Maimero, 151-152. New York: Ungar, 1979.
. "Doris Betts, Heading West A Review Essay." Southern Quarterly 21, no.
2 (1983): 68-76.
Growing Up Southern: How the South Shapes Its Writers [Interviews], edited by Fred
Brown and Jeanne McDonald, 97-116. Greenville, SC: Blue Ridge
Harmon, A. G. "A Conversation with Dons Betts." Image: A Journal of the Arts and
Religion 11 (1995): 51-68.
Holman, David Manon. "Faith and the Unanswerable Questions: The Fiction of
Dons Betts." Southern Literary Journal 15, no. 1 (1982): 15-23.
Howard, Jenmfer. "Dons Betts." Publishers Weekly, 25 April 1994, 42-43.
"Interview with Dons Betts." StoryQuarterly 1 (1975): 67-72.
Jones, A. Wesley. "Beasts of the Southern Wild." In Survey of Contemporary Literature,
edited by Frank N. Magill, 579-583. Rev. ed., Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem,
Ketchin, Susan. "Dons Betts: Resting on the Bedrock of Original Sin." In The
Christ-Haunted Landscape: Faith and Doubt in Southern Literature, 230-259.
Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994.
Kimball, Sue Laslie, and Lynn Veach Sadler, eds. The 'Home Truths'" of Doris Betts.
With a bibliography. Proceedings of the Eighth Annual Southern Writers
46 DORIS WA UGH BETTS
Symposium. Fayetteville: Methodist College Press, 1992.
Madden, David. "The Astronomer and Other Stories." In Survey of Contemporary
Literature, edited by Frank N. Magill, 418-423. Rev. ed., Englewood Cliffs,
NJ: Salem, 1977.
McFee, Michael. "Reading a Small History in a Universal Light: Dons Betts, Clyde
Edgerton, and the Triumph of True Regionalism." Pembroke Magazine 23
Moose, Ruth. "Superstition in Dons Betts's New Novel." North Carolina Folklore
Journal '21 (1973): 61-62.
Powell, Dannye Romine. Parting the Curtains: Interviews with Southern Writers.
Photographs by Jill Krementz, 15-31. Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, 1994.
Prenshaw, Peggy Whitman. "A Conversation with Seven Fiction Writers."
Southern Quarterly 29, no. 2 (1991): 69-94.
Ragan, Sam. "Tribute to Doris Betts." Pembroke Magazine 18 (1986): 275-284.
Ray, William E. "Doris Betts and the Art and Teaching of Writing." In Man in 7
Modes, 40-51. Winston-Salem: Southern Humanities Conference Proceed-
Reynolds, John R., Stephen Harnson, and Walter Quade. "Dons Betts." The Rebel
[East Carolina University] (1969): 9-12.
Rogoff, Leonard. "Culture and Its Rightful Heirs: Dons Betts on Higher Educa-
tion." Spectator, 30 May-5 June 1985, 5-8.
Ross, Jean. "Interview: Doris Betts." In Contemporary Authors. New Revision
Series, vol. 9, edited by Ann Evory and Linda Metzger, 51-55. Detroit:
Gale, 1983. [Ross had earlier interview in Dictionary of Titerary Biography
Yearbook: 1982, edited by Richard Ziegfield, 219-227. Detroit: Gale, 1983.]
Scandling, Mark William. "Profiles of Three North Carolina Writers: Dons Betts,
Lee Smith, Daphne Athas." M.A. thesis, University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill, 1979.
. "Dons Betts: Making a Difference in Many Lives." Carolina Quarterly 32,
no. 2(1980): 101-108.
Scura, Dorothy M. "Dons Betts's Nancy Finch: A Heroine for the 1980s."
Southern Quarterly 22, no. 1 (1983): 3-12. [Reprint in Women Writers of the
Contemporary South, edited by Peggy Whitman Prenshaw, 135-145. Jackson:
University Press of Mississippi, 1984.
. "Doris Betts." In Fifty Southern Writers after 1900: A Bio-Bibliographical
Source Book, edited by Joseph M. Flora and Robert Bain, 53-63. New York:
Greenwood Press, 1987.
. "Doris Betts at Mid-Career: Her Voice and Her Art." In Southern Women
Writers: The New Generation, edited by Tonette Bond Inge, 161-179.
Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1990.
Simpson, Lewis P. Introduction. 3 by 3: Masterworks of the Southern Gothic, vii-xiv.
Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 1985.
Southern Writers [Interviews]. Photographs by David G. Spielman; text by William
MY LO VE AFFAIR WITH CAROLINA 47
W. Starr; foreword by Fred Hobson. Columbia: University of South
Carolina Press, 1997: 24-25.
Walsh, William J. Speak So I Shall Know Thee: Interviews with Southern Writers, 40-51 .
Asheboro, NC: Down Home Press, 1993. [Interview from 1988.]
Wolfe, George. "The Unique Voice: Doris Betts." In Kite-Flying and Other Irrational
Acts. Conversations with Twelve Southern Writers, edited by )ohn Carr, 149-173.
Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972. [Wolfe's interview
appeared earlier in substantially the same form as "Interviews with Doris
Betts," Red Clay Reader 1 (1970): 12-17.]
The North Caroliniana Society, Inc.
North Carolina Collection
Wilson Library, UNC Campus Box 3930
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514-8890
Chartered on 11 September 1975 as a private nonprofit corporation under provisions of Chapter
55A of the General Statutes of North Carolina, the North Caroliniana Society is dedicated to the promotion
of increased knowledge and appreciation of North Carolina's heritage. This it accomplishes in a variety
of ways: encouragement of scholarly research and writing in and teaching of state and local history;
publication of documentary materials, including the numbered, limited-edition North Caroliniana Society
Imprints and North Caroliniana Society Keepsakes; sponsorship of professional and lay conferences, seminars,
lectures, and exhibitions; commemoration of historic events, including sponsorship of markers and plaques;
and, especially, through assistance to the North Carolina Collection and North Carolina Collection Gallery
of the University of North Carolina Library and other cultural organizations with kindred objectives.
Incorporated by H. G. Jones, William S. Powell, and Louis M. Connor, Jr., who soon were joined
by a distingushed group of North Carolinians, the Society was limited to one hundred members for the
first decade. It elects from time to time additional individuals meeting its strict criterion of "adjudged
performance" in service to their state's culture — i.e., those who have demonstrated a continuing interest
in and support of the historical, literary, and cultural heritage of North Carolina. The Society, a tax-exempt
organization under provisions of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, expects service rather
than dues. For its programs, it depends upon the contributions, bequests, and devises of its members and
friends. Its IRS number is 56-1 1 19848. Upon request, contributions to the Society may be counted toward
Chancellor's Club membership. The Society administers a fund, given in 1987 by the Research Triangle
Foundation in honor of its retiring board chairman and the Society's longtime president, from which more
than 150 Archie K. Davis Fellowships have been awarded to scholars conducting research in North
Carolina's historical and cultural resources.
A highlight of the Society's year is the presentation of the North Caroliniana Society Award to
an individual or organization for long and distinguished service in the encouragement, production,
enhancement, promotion, and preservation of North Caroliniana. Starting with Paul Green, the Society
has recognized Tar Heels such as Albert Coates, Sam ]. Ervin,Jr, Sam Ragan, Gertrude S. Carraway, John
Fries Blair, William and Ida Friday, William S. Powell, Mary and James Semans, David Stick, William M.
Cochrane, Emma Neal Morrison, Burke Davis, Lawrence F. London, Frank H. Kenan, Charles Kuralt,
Archie K. Davis, PI. G.Jones, J. Carlyle Sitterson, Leroy T. Walker, Hugh M. Morton, John L. Sanders,
Doris Betts, and the North Carolina Collection (on its sesquicentennial).
The Society has its headquarters in the North Carolina Collection, the "Conscience of North
Carolina," which seeks to preserve for present and future generations all that has been or is published by
North Carolinians regardless of subject or language and about North Carolina and North Carolinians
regardless of author or source. In this mission the Collection's clientele is broader than the University
community; indeed, it is the entire citizenry of North Carolina as well as those outside the state whose
research extends to North Carolina or North Carolinians. Members of the North Caroliniana Society share
a very special relationship to this unique Collection that traces its beginnings back to 1844 and stands
unchallenged as the largest and most comprehensive repository in America ot published materials relating
to a single state. The North Carolina Collection Gallery, opened in 1988, adds exhibition and interpretive
dimensions to the Collection's traditional services. These combined resources fulfill the vision of President
David L. Swain (1801-1868), who founded the Collection; Librarian Louis Round Wilson (1876-1979), who
nurtured it; and Philanthropist John Sprunt Hill (1869-1961), who generously endowed it. All North
Carolinians are enriched by this precious legacy. A leaflet on the Collection is available without charge.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Willis P. Whichard, President
Archie K. Davis and William C. Friday, Presidents Emeriti
William S. Powell, \ r ice-Prestdent
II. G. Jones, Secretary-Treasurer
H. David Bruton, William McWhorter Cochrane, Betty A. Hodges, Dana Borden Lacy,
Henry W. Lewis, Nancy Cobb Lilly, W. Trent Ragland, Jr., John L. Sanders, and William D. Snider
[continued from inside front cover]
No. 15. A Half 'Century in Coastal 'History (1987)
by David Stick
No. 16. Thomas Wolfe at Eighty-seven (1988)
edited by H. G. Jones
No. 17. A Third oj a Century in Senate Cloakrooms (1988)
by William McWhorter Cochrane
No. 1 8. The Emma Neal Morrison I Know (1989)
by Ida Howell Friday
No. 19. Thomas Wolfe's Composition Books (1990)
edited by Alice R. Cotten
No. 20. My Father, Burke Davis (1990)
by Angela Davis-Gardner
No. 21. A Half Century with Rare Books (1991)
by Lawrence F. London
No. 22. Frank H. Kenan: An Appreciation (1992)
edited by Archie K. Davis
No. 23. Growing Up in North Carolina, by Charles Kuralt, and
The Uncommon Laureate, by Wallace H. Kuralt (1993)
No. 24. Chancellors Extraordinary: ]. Carlyle Sitterson and LeRoy T. Walker (1995)
by William C. Friday and Willis P. Whichard
No. 25. Historical Consciousness in the Early Republic (1995)
edited by H. G. Jones
No. 26. Sixty Years with a Camera (1996)
by Hugh M. Morton
No. 27. William Gaston as a Public Man (1997)
by John L. Sanders
No. 28. William P. Gumming and the Study of Cartography (1998)
edited by Robert Cumming
No. 29. My Love Affair with Carolina (1998)
by Dons Waugh Betts
For availability of particular numbers, contact the Secretary